Category Archives: Editing

Beta-readers

So. My current progress report is that I am at 69157 of 69157 words. Yes, the manuscript grew. This is normal for me when I edit, because my biggest bane is writing too condense.

Doubtlessly, if a professional editor would go over the text, there would be text cut from the manuscript. I have seen the pages of professional authors where they show pages with large red x’s through them. That doesn’t change that when I read through my own texts, I tend to find stuff I tried to discuss in a sentence for which I really should have taken a page. So I work hard to put more air into my manuscripts, so it’s a fun experience to read, instead of a heavy information overload.

I mostly write because I love to write. I love the process of working on, crafting and polishing a story. Of seeing my text and knowing I wrote that. But I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t like for other people to read my stories and enjoy them. Even though, that is the dream, it’s also something I am absolutely terrified off. It’s really scary showing people something so precious, something so deeply personal, something I made and am proud of in a sort of fragile way. Which makes asking people to be my beta reader for a novel-length manuscript one of the hardest and scariest things to do.

However, I feel that if I am going to send my manuscript out to a publishing-house and/or an agent, I should at least have one other human looking at my texts beforehand. Because you know what you are trying to say and you know how your story-world and your characters work. But it also needs to make sense to other people.

Fortunately, I have a partner I love and trust, even or maybe especially with something like this, even though it’s scarier to let the people closest to me read the text than for instance a total stranger. He will read and comment on it, in a useful way.

Maybe I will also approach a couple of friends that like to read in this genre, since while my partner is amazing, urban fantasy isn’t entirely his thing. If I can find the courage :-/ Cause letting my friends read my words…. it remains scary as all hell.

Progress report

So the last few weeks I have been busy editing. My daughter has started napping for one longer period a day, instead of mostly power napping for like 10 minutes at a time, and sleeping a bit earlier. So I am proud to announce that I am at: 48785/66237 words. That’s about 2/3’s done.

I feel proud. And motivated to edit on. So now, for the hardest, and least re-written bit of the book. I am editing on!

An Editing State of Mind

I just spend well over an hour organizing my e-mail. My brain is looking for structure and organization, and by imposing order on the world, it is easier to impose order on itself. A mindset that doesn’t lend itself overly well to writing new things, but which works perfectly well for editing. And reading. Which I have both been doing.

On reading, I have greatly enjoyed Anne Bishop’s new book, Lake Silence, which was set in the world of the Others, but featured a new set of characters. The book really shows off her world-building, something I believe she is one of the very best at of all the authors I have ever had the pleasure to read. The new story is interesting as always, and I like that she has a main character that is both a little older and damaged by the world. A lot of successful books in Urban Fantasy have a young and supremely attractive main character, so I greatly enjoy it when someone breaks this pattern.

Next, I also read the new book by Patricia Briggs, Burn Bright, in the Alpha and Omega series. Every time I wonder how she manages to keep building on her world, expanding the story and the characters evermore, while still drawing from her existing character-set. This is extra impressive because she is a master at information management. She provides her readers with the information relevant for the scene, slowly unfolding the story throughout her books, but generally little more. To the point that if what feels like a side-story or a side-note always ties back into the main story arch, and that I have started spotting upcoming plot-twists by the side-stories taking up too much space…

Outside of that I have gone back to Obsidian, once again. I want to send it to a publisher and an agent somewhere in the next month and a half. I have polished so often, that that should be enough time(I know, I have been intending to do this ‘soon’ ever since I started this blog – one day I will manage).

Afterwards, I want to take a stab at finishing one of my many unfinished novels. In the end, I am more of a novelist then a short story writer. If new stuff comes up, though, I may start on a submission to the Paul Harland-contest, a Dutch contest for speculative fiction. I have been intending to participate again. But I am getting ahead of myself. First thing on the menu: editing Obsidian. Once more into the breach 😉

Polishing

A lesson I run into every now and again is that people can not see past a lack of polish. This is not just with writing, but with many endeavors in life. When you’re selling your house, you learn most people can’t see past your stuff into the space they would actually be buying. In social occasions people can’t see past your outfit and your make up choices into who you are and what you have to say. In the case of writing, it implies that a lot of people can not see past spelling mistakes or grammatical imperfections, into the ideas that drive your stories. Even when they can, they are not always willing to invest the time and effort if the first appearances of your story isn’t pleasing. So I really do need to remember that polishing my story is very important.

When I write, I really want people to look at the bones of my story. I want them to tell me if the construction of my story works, if the characters make sense, if the plot is well crafted. That’s what I spend most thought on, put most work into and what I care about most myself.

When people are caught up on the metaphorical weird dress my story is wearing, they’re not even looking at the picture as a whole, let alone at the story´s bones. While those bones are what determine how much potential your story has, if no one takes the time to look at them, good bones get you nowhere. And if you ask for feedback, people will point out your spelling mistake, not the problem in the construction of your story. Especially if the people giving you feedback are people that you don’t know very well.

So for now, returning to crafting stories after a brief holiday into lyrics and poetry, I am beginning with polishing. And when I have done that, I will do some more polishing. Because writing more gets me only so far. If I want to work on my skill-set and get better at crafting stories, I need feedback on the bones. And to get that, I need to eliminate the imperfections in the story´s polish. So back to editing it is!

Editing and Rewriting

A lot of people can not read past small imperfections, especially with regards to spelling. I know, this is a fact of life. Personally, I mostly care about what is being said and how that is structured. The exact spelling of words matters much, much less to me.

What matters to you tends to be reflected in the stories you write. At least, that’s something I notice with my own stories. Most of my first drafts tell a relatively original tale, have round and complicated characters, and a thought trough and working world behind the words. They have plots with fairly few plot holes. But they also tend to be riddled with spelling errors, cause well, I just don’t care enough to catch them earlier.

This makes editing and rewriting before I show my stories to others extra important. I ran into the “I should have rewritten this” snag a couple of times, recently. Where people couldn’t get past the spelling imperfections, which I know I should have caught earlier but didn’t, and never got to the story I was trying to tell.

Ah well. I’ll just have to make sure I remember this, next time. Letting people read things before I’ve triple-checked the spelling is a bad idea. I must fix the spelling first, before I can get the feedback I am looking for. Because I do need other people to track down those plot holes I missed, and to point out where the world the story is set in needs more, or often less explanations.